Within the first 10 minutes of Netflix’s latest (controversial) film offering, Tall Girl, it is clear why the trailer was widely met with eyerolls and online scorn. “You just have to be strong in the face of adversity,” Angela Kinsey, in character as a pageant mom à la Jennifer Aniston in the (much better) Netflix film Dumplin’, advises the forlorn teenage protagonist in one of the movie’s earliest scenes. “I mean, that’s how I got through high school.” Jodi, the titular “tall girl” played by Dance Moms’ Ava Michelle, scoffs from across the dinner table, her blonde ponytail bobbing. “Mom, everyone loved you in high school,” she says, “Ten guys asked you to prom. I mean, what adversity did you face, exactly?”
Jodi’s adversity, if you haven’t already guessed, is that she is too tall. She is a slender, six-foot-one, 16-year-old white girl who has to endure relentless refrains of, “How’s the weather up there?” which sounds more like a cheesy dad joke than the taunt of cruel bullies, but I digress. Her classmates allegedly call her things like “LeBron” or ‘Skyscraper,” though we never hear these nicknames uttered by anyone except Jodi herself in fits of self-deprecation.
When the Tall Girl trailer dropped last month, it was immediately roasted on Twitter for, well, obvious reasons. One Twitter user shared the clip with the comment, “Wait are you telling me that this isn’t an SNL sketch?” Another tweeted, “I can’t believe Netflix decided tall white girls are a minority that need representation ASAP.” Most of the angry reactions were from people who felt that the film was a step in the wrong direction for representation on screen. Someone else pointed to the fact that Jodi’s black best friend Fareeda, played by Anjelika Washington, does not appear to get the screen time she deserves (after watching the film, I can confirm this to be the case).